The New Jersey Senate has recently given legislative approval to expand the available options for persons convicted of DUI and DWI. Under current laws, anyone charged with a DUI is subject to a period of license suspension, the length of which is determined by the person’s previous record and the severity of the offense. Only specific offenses require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).
But now, after a 29-4 vote in the Senate, a new bill will give drivers the option to hold on to their licenses and have an IID installed in their cars instead. The bill, A1368, has been in the works since last year and passed in the New Jersey Assembly 46-15 last June. Now that the Senate has approved it, the bill will go on to Gov. Chris Christie for review.
A136: What Will Change?
Under the new bill, a first-time drunk driver who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) ranging from .08 to .1 percent will have the IID installed for three months. A first-time offender with a BAC ranging from .1 percent to .15 could have the device in his or her car for seven months to a year.
Any first-time offender whose BAC is over .15 percent would receive a suspension for 7 to 12 months. However, after 90 days of suspension, the driver can apply to have an IID installed instead. In all cases, the convicted driver’s license would still be suspended, but only for 10 days so that the IID can be rented and installed.
Anyone facing second-offense DUI charges would have his or her license suspended for two to four years, which is up from the two years currently in the state’s legislation. A third-time offender, who would typically face a 10-year suspension, could face a suspension period in the 10-to-20-year range under the new law.
If a driver is caught trying to tamper with an installed device, he can be charged with a disorderly persons offense, which carries a six-month maximum jail sentence, as well as fines of up to $1,000.
IIDs work by monitoring a driver’s blood alcohol content before allowing the car to start. A driver must blow into the device before the engine will start, and he or she must do so again 5 to 10 minutes later, and every 20 to 40 minutes after that. If a driver has had a few drinks, the device will detect it and a judge could increase the maximum installation time for the driver.
IID versus License Suspension
According to the bill’s sponsors, if a driver charged with DUI cannot afford to rent an IID and have it installed, or does not want to cover the costs, he or she can elect to continue with the current license suspension penalties. The average cost for renting an IID is between $75 and $100 monthly.
At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, we represent drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To discuss your case, contact a New Jersey drunk driving attorney at HCK today.